The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 112

him, too,
and felt that outlaw though he be, he is still more a gentleman than
nine-tenths the nobles of England."

"But his birth, my daughter!" argued the Lady de Tany. "Some even say
that the gall marks of his brass collar still showeth upon his neck, and
others that he knoweth not himself the name of his own father, nor had
he any mother."

Ah, but this was the mighty argument! Naught could the girl say to
justify so heinous a crime as low birth. What a man did in those rough
cruel days might be forgotten and forgiven but the sins of his mother
or his grandfather in not being of noble blood, no matter howsoever
wickedly attained, he might never overcome or live down.

Torn by conflicting emotions, the poor girl dragged herself to her own
apartment and there upon a restless, sleepless couch, beset by wild,
impossible hopes, and vain, torturing regrets, she fought out the long,
bitter night; until toward morning she solved the problem of her misery
in the only way that seemed possible to her poor, tired, bleeding,
little heart. When the rising sun shone through the narrow window, it
found Joan de Tany at peace with all about her; the carved golden hilt
of the toy that had hung at her girdle protruded from her breast, and a
thin line of crimson ran across the snowy skin to a little pool upon the
sheet beneath her.

And so the cruel hand of a mighty revenge had reached out to crush
another innocent victim.




CHAPTER XV

When word of the death of Joan de Tany reached Torn, no man could
tell from outward appearance the depth of the suffering which the sad
intelligence wrought on the master of Torn.

All that they who followed him knew was that certain unusual orders were
issued, and that that same night, the ten companies rode south toward
Essex without other halt than for necessary food and water for man and
beast.

When the body of Joan de Tany rode forth from her father's castle to
the church at Colchester, and again as it was brought back to its final
resting place in the castle's crypt, a thousand strange and silent
knights, black draped, upon horses trapped in black, rode slowly behind
the bier.

Silently they had come in the night preceding the funeral, and as
silently, they slipped away northward into the falling shadows of the
following night.

No word had passed between those of the castle and the great troop of
sable-clad warriors, but all within knew that the mighty Outlaw of Torn
had come to pay

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